You may know this as eggplant parmigiana. It’s a classic Italian dish made with fried sliced “breaded” melanzana, layered with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked. It’s quite labour intensive, it takes over an hour to prepare but I promise that it’s totally worth it. You can take some shortcuts – use already grated mozzarella like we did. This is a one pan meal, you normally wouldn’t eat anything additionally, but if you want to add a steak or some chicken with it to round it out that’s fine!
2 medium eggplants (melanzane/eggplant)
3 large eggs
4 or 5 tablespoons of coconut flour (or more, depending on the thickness of the batter)
Sparkling water (soda water) as needed to lighten the batter
Canned peeled whole tomatoes
1 medium/large onion
Crushed chillies (optional)
Salt (fine and coarse)
Ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
150 grams of grated mozzarella or 1 large whole mozzarella chopped
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or Grana Padano cheese
This recipe is in 5 parts and organised this way:
Part 1 – Eggplant slices preparation
- Wash the eggplants
- Thinly slice the eggplants by the short side (to obtain circular slices roughly 5 mm thick – a 5th of a inch)
- Set the slices inside a large colander and add coarse salt, layer the eggplant slices and the salt.
- Once all the eggplant slices are in the colander, add a weight on top of them and wait 20 to 30 minutes.
- After the wait is over, remove the weight, and squeeze the slices down to drain the vegetation water
- Wash the slices, drain them and pat them dry with some kitchen towel
- Put them aside for later
Part 2 – Tomato sauce preparation (to be done while you wait at step 4 above)
- Chop the onion into small pieces
- Add olive oil to a pot, cover the bottom with a thin layer
- Add the chopped onion and the crushed chillies (optional) to the pot
- Fry the onion until it is translucent and soft, stir regularly
- Add the peeled tomatoes, previously crushed or blitzed, to the pot
- Add salt and stir well
- Let it come to a boil and then let it simmer for 20 minutes or so.
- Stir regularly until done.
Part 3 – Batter preparation
- Break 3 whole eggs into a bowl
- Add salt and pepper and whisk them well
- Add one spoonful of coconut flour at a time and whisk it in
- Continue until the batter gets denser
- Add some carbonated (sparkling) water to loosen the batter a bit
- Add some more coconut flour if required
- Mind that the batter does not become too thick. Coconut flour tends to have a delayed effect on thickness. If too thick add a bit more water and whisk.
Part 4 – Fry the eggplant slices
- Add olive oil to a large pan, enough that the slices will be partially covered when dipped into it
- Heat up the oil (don’t let it smoke)
- Dip each aubergine slice into the batter
- Add the battered slices to the pan and let them fry on one side until light brown and then turn them over to brown the other side
- Remove and set aside on a plate with some kitchen towels to absorb the excess oil
- Continue until all slices are fried
Part 5 – Assembly
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
- Cover the bottom of a medium/large oven tray with a layer of tomato sauce
- Lay down the eggplant slices side by side, don’t overlap
- Cover the slices with tomato sauce
- Add grated mozzarella
- Add some basil leaves
- Add grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Restart with another layer of eggplant, etc.
- Continue until you complete the last layer, which must be with tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmigiano and basil.
- Put into the oven for 40 minutes at 180 degrees, or until the cheese on top is melted and crispy.
- Let it rest for a while (20 minutes or so) before serving it.